Quick. Name your organization’s core values. Can you do it? Does anyone know what they are?
You can have an organization without a clear mission. You can even have an organization without a compelling vision. What you cannot have is an organization without a set of core values. Core values exist at the heart of your organization. The problem is that you have failed to understand the imperative to articulate precisely what those values are.
Whenever human beings come together around a common goal, they form a society centered on a set of common values. This process occurs so subconsciously that we are often not aware of it happening. And in concentrating on building a profitable company or solving a social ill, we fail to capture the sociological engine that is the very heart of the human work system.
At the outset, this is not much of an issue. The cohesion of the people in the organization is so strong due to their implicit shared values that those values can be taken for granted. The trouble comes when you start to grow and add new people to the society. If you cannot articulate the essence of the social structure at the heart of your company, you will invariably introduce disparate values brought in through newcomers. This will not be much of a problem right away, but over time, as more and more tangential values are introduced to the social system, they will begin to compete with one another for dominance. This is when organizational dysfunction emerges and it is painfully difficult to diagnose and treat.
So, if your organization has never articulated its operant core values or if they are never spoken of nor used to lead and manage, then what has developed over time is a confused or diffused organizational culture. This is, by its very nature, highly inefficient. The clearest and strongest organizational cultures are totally aligned with their mission and vision. They are consistently among the highest rated companies to work for. They have exceptionally high rates of employee retention and happiness. And when people are happy and conflict and anxiety are low, then the human work system purrs like the engine of a finely tuned Formula One race car.
Still can’t come up with your organization’s core values? Then it is time to gather your team together to discern exactly what those values are. This is a bit trickier than it might seem for existing companies. There is an art to this so that you do not simply choose a set of ideals that you wish were the values of your organization. Do this and you will experience “foreign tissue rejection” as staff and stakeholders judge that these values do not reflect the real you.
Call us at TurningWest. We have a unique and fun method for helping you discern the true values operating at the core of your human work system. Your team will thank you for leading towards a healthier organizational culture.